Sophomore Grant Riller scored 25 points and nailed four of his team’s 11 shots from behind the arc as top-seeded College of Charleston earned a spot in the title game for the second straight season, defeating fourth-seeded William & Mary, 83-73, in semifinal No. 1 of the 2018 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship, presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs.
The Cougars (25-7) advance to Tuesday’s championship game where they will look to avenge a 2017 defeat versus either No. 2-seed Northeastern or No. 6-seed and two-time defending tournament champion UNCW at 7 p.m. The 2018 CAA Championship contest can be seen on CBS Sports Network.
In a back-and-forth affair throughout, CofC went into halftime leading by five (39-34). Paul Rowley brought the Tribe within one, 47-46, on a 3-pointer with 13:08 remaining, but that’s when the game swung open for the top seed. Charleston utilized a critical 22-13 run over the next seven-plus minutes with all but two of its points during that stretch coming behind the arc. Riller brought the crowd alive with a trey that put his team ahead, 69-59, and from there W&M played catchup the rest of the way.
CofC junior Jarrell Brantley finished with 14 points and a team-best 10 rebounds and senior Joe Chealey added 16 points in the win. Marquise Pointer contributed valuable minutes off the bench, scoring 10 points on a perfect 3-of-3 effort to go with four rebounds and five helpers.
Appearing in the semifinals for the fifth straight season, William & Mary (19-12) was led by sophomore Nathan Knight, who shined for the second time this weekend with a game-high 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting along with seven rebounds. Rowley hit 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and had 14 points, senior David Cohn added 11 points and seven assists, and senior Connor Burchfield chipped in 10 points and eight boards. Sophomore Justin Pierce, who had seven points and six rebounds, was the only other Tribe player to find the scoreboard in the setback.
The Tribe, which leads the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, didn’t drain its first trey until Rowley ended a four-minute scoreless drought with one at the 10:00 mark. Riller, though, had the answers with a three 3-pointers that gave the Cougars a 26-15 advantage.
Knight and Burchfield brought the Tribe faithful alive with back-to-back treys on consecutive Tribe possessions, while CofC hit its own brief cold streak as the half winded down. Riller and Knight stole the early headlines, leading the way (and their teams) with 18 and 17 points, respectively after 20 minutes of play.
Charleston shot 50 percent in the game (31-of-62) and forced 11 W&M turnovers. The Tribe made just 10-of-26 shots from 3-point range.